May 20, 2021

PLAYING WITH DOLLS

This photo surfaced only a few years ago.  My nephew Joe went through some old photos from his mother Tootsie and sent me some of them.  Here I’m sitting on the sidewalk at our house on Eaves Street holding my latest doll.  I’m probably about 8 or 9 years old.

A new doll was always on my Christmas list.  Usually I’d spend weeks poring over the Sears and Roebuck Christmas catalog to make my choice. I generally preferred baby dolls—but sometimes chose one that was more of a little girl.  One of my last ones was a bridal doll complete with veil. I had a collection of items for the dolls—baby buggies, cradles, beds.  Mother made small quilts and pillows for my dolls, and sometimes dresses from leftover fabric of dresses she made for me.  

When I got a new doll, the others stayed around even if they didn’t get as much attention any more. My active imagination inspired me to act out some dramatic skits with my doll “children”—the prerogative of an only child. And sometimes my best ideas for a plot seemed to come just before bedtime. I’d beg to stay up an extra hour or so to “see how it turns out!”

It’s hard to describe what the dolls represented for me. I lavished love and attention on them—and always wanted them close by.  Even when I no longer played with them, a few favorites remained in my room—maybe with their hair hopelessly tangled or falling out and even a missing eye or limb.  They weren’t collector dolls—just well-loved companions.

Paper dolls were also big favorites.  I was always excited to get a new book of them and cut out all the dolls and clothes.  I remember movie star paper dolls—Margaret O’Brien, Elizabeth Taylor and Shirley Temple—and even the young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. 

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